|Kurdish Children's Choir Acquitted of Charges under Anti-Terror Law (Updated)|
KHRP is pleased to announce that for the second time this year where it was the only international observer, trial proceedings that should never have been initiated have ended in acquittals.
On 3 July 2008, a Turkish court acquitted six members of a children's choir charged after singing a Kurdish song at a folk festival in San Francisco last autumn. Three other children charged in the same case had earlier been acquitted on 19 June.
The children, who were members of the Diyarbakir Yenisehir Council Children's Choir, attended the World Music Festival last year in San Francisco and sang a march in Kurdish named “Ey Raqip.”
They faced charges under Article 7/2 of the Anti-Terror Law of “making propaganda of a terrorist organisation.” The indictment argued that the song the children sang, which was written in 1938, has been adopted as the official march of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and that PKK flags were behind the children as they sang.
A KHRP trial observation mission witnessed the 19 June acquittal, during which the judge stated that there was ‘no evidence of any intention to commit a crime.’ Earlier this year, KHRP witnessed the trial of a publisher who faced a similar charge for publishing a book on the history of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
KHRP’s Executive Director Kerim Yildiz noted, ‘Although KHRP is pleased that both trials resulted in acquittals, it remains concerned that these cases were brought to trial in the first place. The practice of opening cases against people who speak in Kurdish or say something contrary to the conventional state line is commonplace and acts as a tool of intimidation and engenders self-censorship. ‘